Happiness isn’t a concept we talk about often in schools, and it’s to our detriment as teachers that we don’t consider it more. A happy student isn’t bored, disengaged, or misbehaving. Instead, they’re keenly interested in what they are learning, pleased to be interacting with their peers and better able to meet academic challenges in a resilient fashion. How, then, can we make our students happier, and consequently help them learn better? There are three key classroom ingredients that will make students happier at school.
1. Cooperative Learning Experiences:
More and more, students are required to think critically about their learning, examine the choices they make, and to justify their own reasoning on tests and assessments. These are important skills for students to have, but they’re not skills that can be taught through teacher lectures. Students need the opportunity to talk and share their ideas continually throughout the day with their peers and with the teacher. Well-designed cooperative learning groups make high-stakes critical thinking practice a fun conversation between peers, or a game the whole group is involved in. It’s an easy way to raise student happiness while working on foundational skills.
2. High Student-Engagement Rates:
While it might seem obvious to teachers, the importance of all the skills taught in school often escapes students. Even continual reminders that they’ll need the skills to pass the tests and progress to the next grade often fall on deaf ears. Instead of nagging students with how important the skills are to learn, try catching their attention in new and exciting ways. Provoke interest by showing a video or comic strip related to their learning experiences. Tell a joke with a punchline related to the subject being taught. Get creative with attention-grabbers and student happiness will rise while boredom decreases.
3. High-Tech Learning Equipment:
Think about the preferred hobbies of students in today’s schools. Chances are high that at least two of their preferred leisure-time activities revolve around a technological device of some kind. Phones, tablets, computers and video game systems are ever present in student’s lives after school. Bringing those high-interest items into the classroom and carefully planning lessons around them makes school work feel like play, and pushes student happiness off the charts.